Child Support Attorney in Fort Worth, Texas
Children cannot fend financially for themselves. They cannot buy groceries and clothing or pay for school lunches. Supporting children is not only their parents’ job, but their legal obligation under Texas law. This is true regardless of whether everyone lives under the same roof, or they live entirely separate lives.
A parent whose children spend most of their time with them may feel like they are shouldering the majority of this financial obligation. A parent who spends less time with the children may feel less obligated to provide for them. However, the law requires both parents to share the costs associated with raising a child. It’s the court that will decide how that obligation is fulfilled.
Family law attorney Kim Hamilton has represented hundreds of parents in child support cases in Fort Worth and throughout Texas, including Johnson County and Tarrant County. Parents have obligations, but they also have rights. He will help protect them.
How Is Child Support Calculated in Texas?
The parent who pays child support to the other parent is usually the one who spends less time with the children. This could be the non-custodial parent whose visitation is outlined in a court-approved parenting plan that may be part of a divorce or merely between two unmarried parents. Or it could be the non-custodial parent who never sees their children at all.
This does not mean that the custodial is released from financial responsibility. On the contrary, because the children spend more time with them, the custodial parent is providing financial support as well.
Since the non-custodial parent is paying support, the amount paid is based on their income and, in some cases, their assets. The court will review all sources of the non-custodial parent’s income, which may be more than just their paycheck. It could include rent and royalties, unemployment, Social Security, or workers’ compensation benefits.
Once the parent’s gross income is determined, certain expenses will be deducted to arrive at their net income. Such expenses include the cost of health insurance premiums for the children or income taxes paid if they can’t claim the children as exemptions.
The court then applies a percentage to the net income, based on the number of children to receive support. For example, if there is one child, the guidelines assign 20% of the parent’s net income for child support. If there are three children, it is 30%.
Parents can agree to child support payments that exceed the standard guidelines. The court can award less than the guidelines if the paying parent can provide evidence of extenuating circumstances that make the recommended support a hardship. Moreover, the court can consider a variety of additional factors in deciding how much support should be paid, such as the needs of the children, time spent with each parent, the cost of travel between parents, and each parent’s financial ability to support them.
You should know that the court will always tender a child support arrangement that reflects the best interests of the children, not either parent. And, if a non-custodial parent becomes voluntarily unemployed or underemployed in an attempt to pay a lower child support amount, the court will impute their income. That means the judge will assign the net income as the amount it should be rather than the amount it is.
No matter what your needs may be, Kim Hamilton Attorney at Law will fight for your rights and best interests.
Can a Child Support Arrangement Be Changed?
Although it can be a process, an existing child support agreement may be modified if there has been a substantial enough change in either parent’s or child’s circumstances:
Non-custodial parent’s life changes. This could be an issue that affects the non-custodial parent’s ability to pay the amount ordered, such as the loss of a job, a change in health status, or the birth of additional children for whom they are financially responsible.
Custodial parent’s life changes. On the other hand, it could be a change in the custodial parent’s circumstances as well, such as remarriage or earning a significantly higher income.
The child’s needs change. It could be a change in the children’s needs, such as a serious health condition. Or, child support modification could be accompanied by a new parenting plan that reflects a major change in the time spent with each parent.
It must have been at least three years since the initial child support order was entered or a modification was made to request a modification. Modification of existing orders is not made lightly, so it is wise to work with a family law attorney if you want to petition the court for change.
When Does Child Support Terminate?
Termination of child support routinely ends when a child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. The obligation is also terminated if the child becomes an emancipated minor by court order, by marriage, or by military service. Of course, child support terminates upon the death of the child.
No termination of child support is automatic. You must petition the court for termination. Until a new order for termination is entered, the existing child support order remains in effect.
Child Support Attorney in Fort Worth, Texas
There is a process for how child support is ordered in Texas, but the circumstances of every parent are unique. If you are establishing a new child support arrangement or want to modify an existing one, call Kim Hamilton Attorney at Law in Austin, Texas, today.